It’s late night. I’m chatting on MSM Messenger with a mate from school. The big, cream coloured PC box whirrs away, piled on top with AOL Online CD-ROMs and rewritable discs for my amateur Limewire piratage.
Clicking about, I stumbled across a message board with a bunch of people chatting about riding bikes off road. Some bloke called “Chipps”. Somebody called “Matt”. A load of others talking about riding. And the fun of it. And the love of it. I thought I’d join in.
A few months later the conversation on that little chat group turned to maybe starting a magazine. “We can do it if you all chip some money in”. It wasn’t much, so a load of people did. And lo and behold, a few weeks later a glossy, stapled, beautiful thing plonked through the letterbox.
A new magazine was born.
And it was different. It felt like it belonged to me. It felt like it said what I thought. It felt like it said what I thought but then pushed me a bit by showing me more. Inspirational stuff eh? No! Bloody annoying. It just told me the brilliant places I hadn’t ridden, but could.
Singletrack Magazine and its forum are a huge part of my mountain biking life. And it’s a huge part of how mountain biking has changed in this country in the past 20 years. Don’t believe me? Look at the support they give to improved access and advocacy .
But like all other small businesses, the last few years has been tremendously difficult for them. Add into that challenge the pressures on print from online content and it’s all the more important to support the people behind these vital publications.
I subscribe to two mountain bike magazines; Singletrack and Cranked. Both put quality writing and photography at their heart. Both put riders first. Both put huge stock in pushing for better access, provision and support for mountain biking. And both are, really, just a bunch of friends working together to do what they love, for other people.
That ethos can’t be allowed to just disappear thanks to ambivalence and quick access to stuff online.
Nothing beats the feel of a quality magazine, a brew and an hour of escapism. We have to fight to protect that.
It’s easy too. Subscriptions are not going to break the bank, even in today’s climate. Half a tank of petrol might get you 150 miles down the road. It might also take you to the Atlas Mountains, the foothills of Guatemala, or even Hebden Bridge.
I know this all sounds a bit gushing, and I realise the irony of saying this in a blog, but it is a rallying call to support the print mags. Sign up for a sub, because one day the option to do so may have passed, and you’ll miss them when they’re gone.